Citizens upset at cuts to the Medicaid Title 19 Waiver complain to Senator Manchin’s staff at Hillsboro Library.
Seth Coppe, a Staff Assistant to Senator Joe Manchin conducted an open meeting at the Hillsboro Library on May 19. The meeting is part of the Senator’s “Common Sense Connections Week “where members of the Senator’s staff are visiting every county in one week to allow constituents to bring problems to the Senator’s attention.
“This is the Senator’s way to bring government to you the people” Coppe says. “This week we are visiting all 55 counties in the State. It’s a great way for West Virginians to express their opinions and the staff takes it back to Washington for the Senator.”
This meeting was attended by 5 citizens. Several were caregivers to developmentally disabled adult children and they were very upset by proposed cuts to the Medicaid Title 19 Intellectual Developmental Disabilities Waiver Program. Gary Coulter of Renick was particularly upset.
“This don’t make sense” Coulter said. “I’ve got a son that’s 23 years old. He can’t feed himself and he can’t talk. And they are going to cut it down to where he gets 8 hours a day care where he has got to have 24, and that’s all there is to it. Then when they steal from the handicapped kids to fix the budget in West Virginia! What they need to do is eliminate about 75% of the senators up there and the budget would be all right, they don’t do anything anyway!”
Coulter went on about what he feels is wrong about these cuts.
“The reason this waiver was started in West Virginia was to save the State millions of dollars so they didn’t have to have an institution to put all these children in” said coulter. “So they are going to save all these millions of dollars by letting the family take care of them. And now they say ‘we’re going to cut the funding off so you can’t afford to take care of em and we’re not going to’. That don’t even make any sense.”
Donna Snider of Hillsboro and Linda McCoy of Buckeye also are care givers for their adult children and expressed their frustrations about the cuts to the number of hours of care provided each day for their children. Both feel that the cuts will make it almost impossible for them to afford to continue care for their disabled loved ones.
Alison Adler, Communications Director for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources responded to my inquiries on this issue. Adler says that the changes are contained in the 5 year renewal application which the agency submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and is currently pending their approval. She says that the Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Waiver currently provides community-based services to more than 4,500 West Virginians who have intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. She said that the cuts are necessary to keep the program within budget and to use the savings to provide services to more than 1000 West Virginians who are on the waiting list. Many of these have been waiting for 3 years. Adler added the following written comments.
“It’s important to note that none of the changes reduce direct medical services or therapies to the recipient” said Adler. “Benefits to family members and provider agencies have been modified to align with other states and to free up the necessary funds to serve additional eligible individuals on the wait list once savings are realized.”
There were other issues discussed with Senator Manchin’s staff Assistant at the Hillsboro meeting. Donna McGinnis of Buckeye is very concerned about an unsafe road condition on a sharp curve on U.S. 219 by her home.
“On that turn they can’t see what’s coming either way, and I’ve asked the State roads to do something about it and they won’t do nothing” McGinnis says. “And I’ve had 29 wrecks there in my yard. All he need to do is just take the grader and go over about 2 foot and knock that hillside off.”
Oca G. Wilfong of Hillsboro expressed her concerns that the funding for the Pocahontas County Senior Citizen Centers and programs might be eliminated.
“Well I hope the Seniors stays in business – the Senior Citizens” Wilfong says. “Yea, I home they continue on because I get Meals on wheels and transportation.”
Other issues raised by the attendees included rebuilding Marlinton after last year’s fire, keeping Hillsboro elementary School open, and that there is only 1 grocery store in both Marlinton and Hillsboro.